“We’re doing exciting things with way-finding and signage to help make it somewhat less difficult to find things at Liberty Station,” said Nathan Cadieux of The Corky McMillin Cos.
Cadieux and Kim Elliot gave a slideshow presentation detailing some ideas and graphics for new proposed signage.
“One goal of all our designs with Liberty Station is to enhance the guest experience, which is why we’re here inviting your feedback today,” Cadieux told community planners.
There were some hurdles to clear with getting permission for new signage at the center. The former military base is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the individual structures are designated as historic by the city of San Diego. Dozens of the historical buildings have been adapted for stores, offices, schools and other purposes.
But in the interests of authenticity, many things about the base, such as colors, architecture and building materials, cannot be changed, as that would alter its character, which is being preserved.
Another goal of furnishing new way-finding signs is to provide a “unified brand” for the mixed-use development, Cadieux said. “This (development) has history,” he explained. “It has a story built into it. It’s not just fabricated buildings. We really want people to explore Liberty Station, visit the new restaurants, the cultural district, share a meal or a laugh or go on a picnic. We love the idea of Liberty Station becoming a big community asset.”
Cadieux said preliminary designs for signage at entryways, like Roosevelt Street, are subtle.
“No spinning, no neon lights,” he said, adding the objective is to create something “that lets people know they’ve arrived.”
Board planner and bicycling enthusiast Nicole Burgess suggested that some signage needs to be tailored for the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. Planner Bruce Coons suggested that attention be paid to the colors and materials used to “match the history and texture of the buildings.”
Colleague Jarvis Ross said he felt a slide shown depicting an American flag on a monument sign was “too much.”
“It’s needed,” said group treasurer Patricia Clark of new signage at Liberty Station.
Fellow planner Jay Shumacher said he felt the tendency is to overdesign. “I’m wondering whether the architecture speaks for itself,” he said.
After the meeting, Cadieux said that now that Liberty Station has been up and operating for some time, the public is more open to doing things visually that “announce Liberty Station’s presence in the community as a destination.”
“We don’t want to be a shopping center,” said Cadieux of Liberty Station. “We want to be a special, community destination.”
Cadieux said the ultimate goal with everything at Liberty Station is not only to heighten the guest experience but also to create a place that’s representative of San Diego, that feels authentic. “We don’t want it be manufactured, fake,” he said. “We want local businesses that really promote the community.”
Cadieux said his company is scheduled to appear before the city’s Historic Resources Board in May to get that group’s approval for their way-finding signage plans at Liberty Station. Once designs are finalized, McMillin will return for another presentation to the planning board.